Are You Short on Farm Labor?

Managing Talent

Develop a labor schedule to figure out what you need

Published on: February 10, 2014

It's human nature - when there is a problem we don't want to deal with, we avoid it like the plague.

For me, that is year-end closing and getting my tax documents together. If I could just ignore getting them I would, but apparently there is some major deadline we are all held accountable to.

For a farm, that one thing we typically dread to deal with more than anything is labor.  We don't like it, we are unsure of how to find it and we certainly don't like to manage it.

If you are short one full-time person, that is fairly easy to identify and not as difficult to fill, but for most farms it's not that clear cut.  Often, we are short only for harvest or only for planting. I recommend my clients work to develop a labor schedule. Take all the major activities that need to be completed for the year and then place those activities into one of the four seasons.  Then start assigning labor to the different activities. Where are you short?

If you are short for only a seasonal position it is not too early to start looking.  Sometimes finding those seasonal workers can be difficult; you may find a retiree not looking for full-time or a student that is off for a semester or the summer. You may find someone that owns their own small business that would be glad to make some money on the side. 

Regardless of who you find, finding them takes effort and time and typically they are not looking because they are not confident they will find a match for their schedules.

My advice is to first start talking to those around you. I had a client once say they really needed a part-time bookkeeper. I told him there are some great finds for that position, but you will have to find them and not wait for them to find you. I advised he ask around and sure enough, the lady that cuts his hair found him his perfect fit.

One of the biggest myths is that there is no one for the position you have open. I have found there is typically always someone for your opening.